Sleep, Memory, SIs & Evolution [was Re: curing sleep]

Robert J. Bradbury (
Fri, 29 Oct 1999 12:08:18 -0700 (PDT)

On 29 Oct 1999, Anders Sandberg offered

> severali _pertinent_ comments with Medline references regarding
> psychopaths with sleep disorders and the lack of sleep in
> species in relatively safe, non-stimulating environments.

My comments.

(a) I wonder if Anders makes _impertinent_ comments when he is asleep?

(b) It will be difficult for the psychologists to separate out

the relationship between sleep & behavior disorders until we know individual genetic profiles. There is going to be a world of difference between someone with a hyperactive adrenelin gene and a hyperactive clock gene but it might be difficult to tell these apart looking at it from a behavioral standpoint. "All will become clear in the light of the A's, C's, G's & T's..."

(c) The fish/bird theory fits pretty well. Birds if I recall

manage by sleeping 1/2 of the brain at a time. That allows them to do all of the memory refresh while still having a processor online to deal with hurricanes, eagles, etc. Fish on the other hand, in environments where there are no significant predators could evolve to the point where sleep for memory reinforcement isn't necessary. Interesting that a boring, safe, environment leads to a requirement where you don't need memories. Essentially you are always living "in the moment" and your pre-programmed genetic behaviors are always sufficient for survival.

*Fascinating* consequences when extended to SIs!! You pre-program at a very low level the necessary survival mechanisms (avoid supernovas & black holes, travel to and harvest stars or interstellar gas clouds, change your clock rate to match the available & predicted energy resources, etc.). After all, these things *aren't* very complex or difficult (for an SI). Potentially however you have no interest in the universe around you. Either (a) you have proven it runs down enventually (so you might as well have as much fun as possible); or (b) know that it runs down but have 10^36 years before you have to create & tunnel into alternate universes; or (c) know how to survive the running down process (by changing your clock rate) and have pre-programmed that self-modification.

Given the above, you look at the SI, its in an environment similar to the cave-fish. It wants to *live* in the moment. Since nothing around it is a threat (all threats being handled by preprogrammed sub-systems) it becomes pointless to remember anything! Just as the cave-fish doesn't need to exercise its memory pathways to have stuff available for future recall, neither does an SI! So all the resources get devoted to short-term memory and computation of the current virtual reality.

Extending my "We don't talk to nematodes and SI's don't talk to us" quote, "We don't talk to nematodes and SIs have forgotten us!" Both humans & SIs are totally "unaware" of the things they take for granted. Humans rarely think about or devote "long term memory" to breathing (exceptions being scuba diving, plane decompressions, astronauts and strangulations). Why should SIs devote thought or attention to the universe or the sub-entities in it? *Only* if surviving in the universe *indefinately* is a *possible*, but *very difficult* problem, will SIs pay attention to the universe. If its impossible or easy (which seem more probable) they may abandon the costs of long term memory for

"Live for today, for tomorrow you *will* be dead". or

"Live for today, for tomorrow the game is reinitialized".

So, now we are left with one final "extropic" question --

"Do you want to evolve slowly or quickly to that point?"

If the energy available to do work is finite, and if we can use it slowly or quickly, but the work (thought quantity) that it can accomplish is the same, which do you prefer?